, an assistive technology consultant in California specializing in working with kids with learning differences, is impressed with the way Learning Ally positively influences the lives of her clients. Her expertise helps students and parents gain insight into the gamut of struggles that can accompany reading disabilities – from behavioral problems to countless hours spent on short homework assignments.
Formerly the assistive technology coordinator at Stanford University, Shelley explains that people with reading challenges spend much of their time and effort just trying to navigate the obstacles set up by the disability. Once they start getting their information in a different way, however, that dynamic changes.
“With assistive technology like Learning Ally’s audiobooks, they find that they can get on a level academic playing field with their peers,” she says.
Considering the prospect of a world without assistive technology, Shelley says that it is not one she would want her students to live in. “Very often, it’s not that these students can’t do the things they need to do in school. It’s that it takes them a lot longer; it’s incredibly frustrating, and they have to put in far more effort. I work with students who are highly dyslexic and have serious auditory or visual processing problems, and they’re still getting A’s and B’s in school. But what is going on behind the scenes that nobody really sees, is that they’re taking two hours to do a 20-minute assignment” – a situation that changes dramatically once they are introduced to services like Learning Ally.
She reminds us that along with academics, there are other overwhelming issues to consider when it comes to learning differences. “Some kids have serious, documented behavioral problems that can be rooted in a learning disability. In some cases, not adequately dealing with the effects of the learning disabilities can lead to those behavioral problems in school. And sometimes when you address the learning disability, certain underlying causes of behavioral problems, like frustration, discouragement and lower self-esteem can be alleviated. It can make a huge difference in how people with learning disabilities perceive themselves. Because now they suddenly say, ‘I can do this. I can do things that previously I was told I couldn’t do.’”
Shelley’s support for Learning Ally is inspired in part by personnel behind the scenes. “One reason I highly recommend Learning Ally is that not only do they provide services that are very beneficial to the specific clients that I deal with, but also it’s a great organization to work with. Without exception, the people that I’ve run into and worked through technical problems with, have been more than happy to help out.”
Visit Shelley Haven's website at http://www.techpotential.net/